Trials and tales of a not-so-advanced gardener--both in the dirt and beyond.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

DIY: No-sew new-to-me chair (for the garden room, of course!)

Here is the before pic--a hideous, I'm thinking 70's chair with lime green velvet and a funk that made the birds fly away. I think this is the one that had a mouse living in it at some point.

Why do I own it? Because I saw fabulous "bones" and a fabulous price ($7.99 at Goodwill). It shall be re-claimed for my garden room, where I am attempting to bring the outside in.


Tools and materials you'll need:

  • needle nose pliers
  • something with a flat edge for removing staples (I use a flat head screw driver)
  • gloves (these things are just dirty)
  • hand sander
  • spray paint
  • 2 yards of fabric (the pretty kind)
  • 2 feet of muslin or plain fabric
  • 2 feet of quilt batting
  • 2" foam (for the cushion)
  • staple gun (and staples)
  • clear glue (I used Welder in the red tube) -- NOT hot glue
  • embellishments, cording, etc


1. Strip off all of the fabric, staples, glue, foam, padding, etc. This is what mine looked like when I was all done.

2. Take your pick--strip, sand and stain OR sand and paint. I chose the later because I wanted a lighter finish than the wood. Plus, I wouldn't know how to care for the caning properly to stain. I used 1.5 cans of spray paint on this one chair to get good and even coverage.

This stuff was the easy part. I'd done all of these things before. Now I was embarking to new territory--re-upholstery!

3. Making the seat.

First I put a layer of muslin over the squiggly metal pieces and trimmed my 2" foam to fit into the seat. Next I covered the foam with a layer of batting and now it was time for my fabric (sorry I didn't take pictures of these steps!)

Staple the fabric in the middle of the front of the chair, pull firmly and staple the opposite side in the middle. Make sure you have a couple of inches overhang. Work slowly to the sides. On this chair I was lucky enough to have a indentation where I put the staples. The most frustrating part of this entire project was making sure the fabric lies flat and still looks nice. On the corners I made a fold so the fabric didn't bunch.

I then took an Exacto knife and cut off the excess fabric. I finished it with some golden braid, which fit perfectly into the indentation. I used the clear glue to adhere it to the chair.

As for the top I re-used the cardboard insert and the brads from the old chair. I re-covered the brads using a different fabric and I adhered this using Aileen's craft glue. I then took fabric and covered the cardboard insert (again with the clear glue)

Once it was re-covered, I attached it to the chair using the Welder glue.

Voila! The finished product! A vast improvement for the eyes and for the nose.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oh, oh it's magic!

It's the first "fruit" of my labor. The first zucchini has come off of the plant and is ready to be eaten.

I call this magic, because just a few months ago I was putting the seeds in a peat pot. He was planted in early June, so I think we would have had some earlier had I put him in the ground earlier. Moving prevented that.

This guy is about 10 inches long--on Monday he was only 4 or 5. I think the water from the storms really helped. There are about 4 more currently growing getting ready to be devoured.

With the first zucchini comes my first zucchini recipe:
***While you have an abundance of zucchini now, they are hard to come by or expensive in the winter. Grate zucchini, measure the right amount and store in freezer bags. Then you'll have the necessary ingredients for this tasty treat year round.

Zucchini Bread
(I loved making this with Mom when I was a kid)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract (the expensive stuff is well worth it!)
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts (some people think the walnuts are optional, I think these people are crazy)


Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.

Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.
**Can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks or frozen for months.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July Bloom Day!

Firstly, it's important to welcome a new friend at In the Weeds. Freddie is our resident flamingo. He comes to us by way of the local JoAnn's fabrics and I think he's just fabulous.

Phlox in many colors all over the back of the house. Light purple, bright purple, and white are blooming now.
Coneflower--so pretty and it makes the bees happy.
Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun' -- this is the first flower I personally planted at the new house. I think it's taken a liking to it's new home.
Daylilies are everywhere! Most of them are this double, orange variety. But I have a few beautiful creamy pink ones.
Finally, shasta daisies hidden amongst the coneflowers and others (read: weeds) in the side yard.

All of the veggies (except the peppers) are blooming: tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and zucchini. There are still a few rose buds, salvia, and geranuims.

The black-eyed susans are budding. They are going to be spectacular!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Craft time: Scarf canopy!

So this project is from the summer when I broke my foot (broken foot occurred during the epic weekend in Nashville, when Noah and I visited my friend Laura).

Nevertheless, it's a fabulous craft DIY project.

What you need:
Assortment of scarves (mine was a patchwork so I wasn't too particular)
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Fishing wire
Needle (with an eye large enough for the fishing wire)

Steps to make this fabulous creation:

1) Arrange the scarves how you'd like for them to fit together. I tried to make it so I would cut as little as possible. I also hung mine over a twin bed, so make sure it's wide and long enough.

2) Cut the pieces so that they fit together with about 1/2 inch over lap.

3) Hot glue gun time! Go slowly; complete an end before adding any length.

4) Once all of the pieces are assembled, determine where you would like your "hanging points." Again, mine was over a bed, so I put the canopy on the bed (like a blanket) and found the corners. Stitch a piece of the fishing wire through the canopy (it's best if it can go through the seam where 2 scarves meet).

5) Tie a knot in the fishing wire and hang. I used small plastic hangers from 3m (the ones with the sticky piece that can easily be removed). The canopy will look like it is hovering over the bed, since the fishing wire is clear.

This is my finished project--some are more transparent than others, some are patterned and others are solid.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Garden Goodies Recipe: Asparagus and Tomato Salad

This delectable dish has become a fast favorite. It's quick, easy, and you can make some changes to alter the flavor. Almost all of the ingredients come from the garden.

1. Blanch the asparagus. (Blanch = boil just for a few minutes until bright green, then place in a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking.)

2. While the asperagus are cooling, chop up 1/2 of a small red onion and a handful of cherry tomatoes in half.

3. Chop up several leaves of fresh basil.

4. Layer onions, tomatoes and basil on the asparagus and drizzle with the dressing of your choice (so far I've tried balsamic and italian).

5. Optional add-ons: goat cheese crumbles (I think this is not optional, as it is delicious), pine nuts (definitely optional, as it is expensive), oregano


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Tear was Shed

Last night I headed back to the old homestead to pick-up a few things. To my chagrin, but not to my surprise, the old garden is in shambles. A tear was shed.

Now don't get me wrong: this was a rental property and I did leave my flowers there (to be dug up later) when I moved out about a month ago.

No less than half of where I used to have flowers has been mowed over--day lilies, coreopsis, hostas, ivy, mums, irises, peonies....these are all things I know were there, but are no longer. Last year, the same guy cut down the rose bushes while they were still flowering!

Now, the part that hasn't been mowed over is basically a weed bed, not a flower bed. Oh there are lilies, salvia, cone flowers, and alliums peeking their heads out from the drudgery, but it doesn't look good.

I'm conspiring with the neighbors (the ones who face my old place) to do some work once I get my plants out of there. As of right now the plan involves, a lot of digging, newspaper, mulch and ground cover. The plan will be fleshed out in entirety at the housewarming over many pints of delicious keg beer.